As much as individuals might want to do something to end the violence, there is little people outside Ukraine can do to directly change what happens next.
That feeling of powerlessness can make the tragedies we are seeing harder to bear, Chambers said.
That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t take action.
“Anxiety is often serving a healthy purpose, which is to stimulate us to take some kind of action,” Carmichael said. “What could be stimulating for you to do?”
That could mean writing to politicians, donating supplies or money to organizations aimed at assisting those in the Ukraine, or getting involved in local politics to support candidates who you believe can make a difference, Carmichael said.
If you are struggling, chances are much of those are coming from a place of empathy, Rice said.
Caring for others is a beautiful feeling, but it also can become overwhelming, and years of experiencing a global pandemic can leave people in a state of compassion fatigue, she said.
What to do
It is acceptable — important, even — to disengage from the subject now and again, Carmichael said. Flip to an entertaining show or podcast rather than burying yourself in the tragedy, read a good book or do something you love.
It is crucial to be tapped into other people’s experiences, but so too is it necessary to recharge your own battery, she added.
For many, the heartache of your city being invaded isn’t an empathetic imagining — it is real.
“Especially for people who have been party to terrorist attacks, refugees from conflict in other places, I think it’s going to hit a lot of demographics differently,” Chambers said.
And those who have history, heritage or family in Ukraine may be especially struggling knowing their home is under attack.
What to do
Watch your triggers, Carmichael said. Learn what hits you the hardest and take care to limit those or be gentle to yourself when you do experience them, she added.
Connecting with others of your community and speaking about what you are going through is incredibly important, Rice said. Now, more than ever, people impacted by the conflict need the support of one another, Chambers added.
There are many reasons that the fighting in another country may be impacting you, and rather than minimize those, it’s important to be aware of and process them, Chambers said.
Be aware of the physical signs that the events are getting to you, like changes in appetite, stomach troubles, sleeplessness, muscle tension and irritability, Rice said. Don’t be afraid to lean on activities like journaling, being outside, talking to trusted people and engaging with your passions, the psychologists said.
Once you have begun to cope with your own reactions, then you can begin to help others, they added.